SeeLevel vs 3-Point Tan Method

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dbhguru
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SeeLevel vs 3-Point Tan Method

Post by dbhguru » Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:40 am

Hi Folks,

As Don and I continue investigating and developing new measurement methods for AF to use in the big tree program, a few surprises are occurring. Basically, there are four levels of expertise to tree measuring that AF will recognize in the future. Level four is NTS of course, or NTS techniques. Level one is the general public. Levels two and three are State Coordinators and certifiers. These two levels will unquestionably continue to use tangent-based measuring methods for the foreseeable future. Some will graduate to pure Level four techniques, but AF will be left with a large force who stay with the current technology. To exclude the techniques and the people who use them is tantamount to torpedoing the whole program. So, change will come about but step at a time. So, can we help out at Levels one through three. Certainly.

The 3-point tangent method that treats the target as vertical has been built into lots of hypsometers. But the measurer must commit to a cost of $400 or more for the hypsometers that have this height method. Now take a look at the results one can get from a $2.00 iPhone app named SeeLevel.
SeeLevelVSTP360.png
This little app can serve well as a substitute for much more expensive hardware and software. I am inclined to see its use at Levels one and two. My judgement is at Level three, tangent-based measurements should require crown cross-trianguation. However, the iPhone app is available at all levels and can serve as one of the training tools at Level Four. I should point out that the app is nowhere near as flexible as the hypsometer. Optics are not as good and the method of use to take a measurement has more sources of error, however ....... The results above were totally unexpected. Don and I will continue evaluating iPhone apps for potential value in the champion tree programs. Anyone care to pitch in with us?

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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dbhguru
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Re: SeeLevel vs 3-Point Tan Method

Post by dbhguru » Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:50 pm

NTS,

Just tested the Theodolite app and it works just as well as SeeLevel. So we have SeeLevel and Theodolite that provide us with tools to take rough measurements of tree heights. I expect other apps have some value, but so far these are the best I have found for the stated purpose.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Don
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Re: SeeLevel vs 3-Point Tan Method

Post by Don » Sat Nov 30, 2013 10:54 pm

NTS-ers...
How many of us have iPhones? For those that do, I sure recommend the Theodolite app! We sure be interested in having a few others comparing it to their current standby tools (clinometer, laser rangefinder), and commenting on what it does right and does wrong. We'd like to include it in the AF Tree Measuring Guidebook 'tool box', so we're welcoming "beta" testers...: > )
Was initially impressed with the Theodolite app for iPhone, and each time I use it, I like it more. Now that Bob has done some testing of it against a few other apps on know trees, and for just obtaining a Tangent-based height, it does a very good job for $3.99. Accelerometer-based clinometers rule!
This app also gives surprisingly accurate measurements of ground location (GPS coordinates), tree heights, distances, horizontal and vertical angles. And one step better, the results can be put into a log and saved, then emailed to an email address of your choice, either for creating a quick duplicate records (I don't know, battery failure, creek immersion, etc) or sharing with co-workers, friends. Can also email images with height targets overlaid for documentation.
Again, for $3.95 !
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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pattyjenkins1
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Re: SeeLevel vs 3-Point Tan Method

Post by pattyjenkins1 » Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:54 am

Bob -- Would this iPhone app be useful to citizen science tree climbers? And could they use it for NTS purposes as well? If so, I can put it out there ~~
patty
Patty Jenkins
Executive Director
Tree Climbers International, Inc.
Get High / Climb Trees

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Don
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Re: SeeLevel vs 3-Point Tan Method

Post by Don » Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:20 pm

Patty-
I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you, but have been most impressed with you and your TCI-ers!
I can't speak for Bob, but I can say YES, PLEASE DO !
I should probably say that, with the caveat that it would require a subset of your members that 1)had iPhones, and 2)could afford $3.99 for the pro-model of Theodolite. That criteria met, it would be wonderful to have a wide array of skill sets trying out the Theodolite software, and especially those who can pair their iPhone results with an ongoing tape drop. Speaking from Alaska, my outside time is a little more limited than I like it, with temps going from 10 above to 10 below zero lately. Good Eastern, Southeastern tree measuring time, with leaf off, is I imagine already happening.
Desired feedback? Ease of operation; accuracy attainable; effectiveness in communication and documentation (log feature, email feature); innovations possible with all the 'tools' in the Theodolite toolbox.
Thanks for asking! Hopefully Bob will chip in soon, perhaps with additional thoughts...
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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dbhguru
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Re: SeeLevel vs 3-Point Tan Method

Post by dbhguru » Mon Dec 02, 2013 5:37 pm

Patty,

Patty, I second what Don said. At the very least, the Theodolite app has a clinometer function that beats mechanical clinometers, and this feature alone makes the app worth the investment. However, Theodolite's photo documentation features provide us with a blueprint for what we can expect in future apps for a peanut-sized investment.

NTS,

So far this topic has involved only Don, myself, and Patty. We'd like to hear from others of you in terms of your experience with iPhone measuring apps. Theodolite isn't going to make laser rangefinders obsolete, but it is a good investment. It can easily outperform mechanical clinometers. So, if you have an iPhone, or comparable product already, $3.99 will get you a crack clinometer that is easy to use. Or is it? Well, that is where evaluations from others become important. I'm sold on Theodolite, and obviously so is Don, having first brought the app to our attention, but we need others to weigh in. It is only $3.99.

On a related topic, i.e. tree measuring, let me say that the American Forests initiative to update the National Register and overhaul tree measuring methodology is turning into an extremely serious endeavor. AF wants to get it right, and the march forward has just begun. There are plans to hold Webinar training sessions next year, as well as moving forward with four levels of measuring guidelines, and eventually a Level-4 certifier certification program. Serious stuff. However, we in NTS need to be patient. The movement forward must be calculated and deliberate. A lot of baggage must be discarded along the way, but not everyone who presently supports the champion tree program would agree that it is baggage. Some state coordinators may see changes at the AF level as threats to their programs, even though the state efforts are independent. Some coordinators will want to retain what has essentially been a low stakes big tree popularity contest that trivializes the original objectives of the program as expounded by Fred Besley.

Moving the state lightweights into the rarified air of tangent versus sine, volumes, areas, cloud maps, photo measuring, reticles, gee whiz iPhone apps, etc., is no minor undertaking. A new type of state-level big tree coordinator must emerge for the states that are behind. However, at this juncture, the last thing AF can afford to do is launch a shiny new program that may please us in NTS, but generates a lot of state opposition. So, in the interim, we explore, debate, develop, and test, moving forward only after careful deliberation. What we don't compromise on is our forward direction. How much participation will we have in the process?

Of the active, working members of the AF MGWG, NTS members make up half, and as of this point, Don's and my participation accounts for most of the group's collective effort and the results obtained. During our group deliberations, I've promised support from NTS. As a minimum, those of you who have agreed to being Level 4 certifiers will be asked, from time to time, to measure challenging trees for AF. This represents NTS group-level participation at the minimum.

I am very pleased to say that Sheri Shannon looks at NTS as the Cadillac group of tree measurers - the avant garde, numero uno. She recognizes that there is a natural role for us to play as a source of independent support to American Forests. Despite past misgivings about the National Register on the part of many (including me), the day has come for us to lend our full support. We will always be an independent organization, but that does not preclude us from providing various kinds of support to AF. For example, beyond what Don and I are doing as part of the AF MGWG, and all of us acting as Level-4 certifiers, an immediate service that we can perform is providing AF with maximum tree dimensions organized by species and state. Matt Markworth's and Jess Riddle's efforts are critical to this mission. We would continually update the list for ourselves and AF. But NTS support can go even further.

Michael Taylor's continued efforts to establish state-of-the-art measuring methods assures us of not lapsing into stodginess, content in measuring tree heights and girths using basically three devices: laser rangefinder, clinometer, and D-Tape. The current use of LIDAR certainly shows our innovativeness, but we can move forward on other fronts as well. Think iPhone apps, photo-measuring techniques, testing of advanced equipment, etc., etc., etc.

And now to my final point, the National Register has its origins in forestry. Most of the tree measurers down through the decades have been foresters. In recent decades amateur big tree hunters have burst on the scene employing common forestry measurement methods. However, it has become increasingly apparent that tree measuring for timber purposes needs to be separated from tree measuring used to crown champions based on concepts of size that must balance girth, height, crown spread, and maybe in the future, volumes. In any move to effect a separation between the two approaches to measuring, NTS should play a pivotal role, because we are the Cadillac that Sheri that imagines us to be. Consider some of the key players who are widely known and/or carry big credentials.

1. Dr. David Stahle, cofounder and Director of the Tree-Ring Laboratory, University of Arkansas, and one of the top dendrochronologists on the planet.

2. Dr. Lee Frelich Vice President of NTS and one of the top forest ecologists on the planet - no exaggeration.

3. Dr. Don Bragg, Editor of the Bulletin of the Eastern Native Tree Society and research forester with the U.S.F.S. and the editor of SAF's prestigious Journal of Forestry.

4. Will Blozan, President of NTS and one of the outstanding tree-climbing tree measurers on the globe. I could go on a long time listing his accomplishments, but I think most of you are aware of them.

5. Don Bertollette, President of WNTS and retired research forester for the Grand Canyon National Park, plus important positions in the U.S, Forest Service.

6. Dr. Neil Pederson of Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory who maintains the records of the oldest trees of each species.

7. Dr. Robert Van Pelt, possibly one of the three most celebrated tree-measurers on the planet.

8. Michael Taylor, Vice President of WNTS and one of the celebrated three top measurers.

The above list gives us bragging rights, but it is reasonable to believe that there are players outside of NTS in the game. For example, were we to search the halls of academia, within the professional forestry organizations, and through government forestry agencies, I'm sure we could find high level measuring-monitoring stuff either being developed or presently going on, but none of it would be directed toward champion tree measuring. At least if there are such efforts, they are being kept as deep secrets, and aren't doing AF any good. So, forging an alliance with American Forests, the Nation's oldest conservation organization and keeper of the National Register, is an absolute natural for NTS. I hope others of you agree.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Larry Tucei
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Re: SeeLevel vs 3-Point Tan Method

Post by Larry Tucei » Mon Dec 02, 2013 8:15 pm

Bob- What a great bunch of people we have at our disposal. I look forward to helping you and other NTS members in such a great project. AF, thanks to you and many others is ready to re-write the book on Champion Tree Listings. I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 and could get the app. But for now I'm really enjoying the TruPulse 200. I just got back from northern Wisconsin, and have some White Pine, Black Spruce, Balsom Fir, Black Ash and Red Pine to report on in a future postings. Larry

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